What is the Biggest Thing in Medical Libraries

A few weeks ago over dinner and drinks my public librarian friend and I got into a very interesting and lively brainstorming discussion about the biggest “things” that have or will hit libraries. The conversation was all over the place.

Some of the things we discussed:

  • Budgets or Tax Proposals
  • Closing of libraries or space problems
  • Competition – Used to be book stores but who is it now?
  • Technology – 3D printers, Google Glass, ebooks, virtual reality
  • Outreach – embedded librarians, phone booth libraries, gas station out reach
  • Legislation – ACA, local issues, NIH, NSA spying
  • Staffing – Where is that giant hiring push?  Staff retire and aren’t replaced.

This discussion has been bouncing around in my head for a while and I keep thinking about the “things” (good or bad) that will affect specifically medical librarians and librarianship.

In your opinion what are the major things to to be hitting medical libraries in the near future?

Is it:

  • Afordable Care Act – Hospitals tightening budgets (and thus the library’s budget) in response to lower reimbursement
  • Meaningful Use – Promote the spread of EHRs to improve health care in the United States
  • Big Data – Its use in hospitals and biomedical research
  • Space – Change of library space from holding books to services? (Often means shrinking of library space)
  • Electronic resources- What isn’t available electronic these days!? Access and usage across devices and outside of the institution.
  • Employment – In response to some of the above instititutional issues, librarians are losing their jobs or are not being replaced as they retire or move to another position.
  • e-Science – Better known as just science within scientific community, but is heavy on the tech, data, and social side of things

I think all of those thing are going to make an impact on medical libraries. But if you had to narrow it down to one thing from the above list, or something I havne’t listed, what would be the biggest thing medical librarians must deal with on the horizon?

Please make it a discussion by commenting below and on Twitter #hittingmedlibs.

8 thoughts on “What is the Biggest Thing in Medical Libraries”

  1. I suspect ACA will hit public libraries / consumer health libraries more than academic medical & hospital libs. Meaningful Use, Big Data…maybe some impact on medical libraries…if you learn computer programming, but then why stay in libraries anyway? The deepest impact IMO will be staffing, budgets & e-resources – terrible, timeless trifecta of medical librarianship.

  2. I kind of see two sides to the ACA and libraries. The public library would focus on helping the people figure out how the ACA impacts them. The hospital library would focus on how the library can help the hospital as it is impacted by the ACA. For example in the hospital world: Hospitals are penalized for readmissions of certain diseases/conditions w/n 30 days of treatment. How can the library help doctors and nurses bring down that readmission rate? Could they do it by helping with guidelines, evidence based studies, working w/ order sets in the EHR? Perhaps maybe they could do it by helping with patient education? Also there is a whole thing on patient satisfaction and reimbursement. Can libraries play a roll there as well?
    Those are just my thoughts.

  3. I think it is going to be hospitals tightening budgets due to ACA and other economic impacts. This is already being seen in staffing reductions but it will also be seen in resource selection pressures. At a time when hospital libraries are facing increasing budgetary pressures, many of the publishers are having increasing pricing pressures due to changing tier structures or other changes (MDConsult to Clinical Key for example). This is putting libraries in increasingly difficult positions and we are increasingly having to answer the question, well we have Up-to-Date what else do you need to purchase?

  4. My vote is for electronic resources being available on devices and outside the institution. And the incorporation of big data into that as well. There are some archaic and frustrating barriers, but I have faith. :-)

  5. I also see both sides of the ACA and libraries. Yes, healthcare organizations may be working with smaller budgets, but that will also force more of an emphasis on prevention and personal responsibility. Consumer health libraries and medical libraries are great tools to assist patients in taking responsibility and managing their own health. I see a lot of opportunities for us to assert our relevance with all these upcoming changes in healthcare.

  6. Going from what I know with family members, I would have to say that the readmission rate would be greatly reduced with guidelines, evidence based studies (especially where the guidelines have suddenly changed, and patients may feel that they can not trust medical personnel to KNOW what is going on), and a connecting of the dots between multiple diseases. Patients are treated separately, as though their systems are not interconnected. Knowing that the same process that is causing insulin increase may be the same process at work in their other autoimmune disease, might make for more compliance. Understanding, I feel, often makes for more compliance, if not initially, then eventually. Nutritional information, as a preventive measure, is an example of an underutilized source for patients. Doctors, and some dieticians, are still handing out old nutritional information based on last year’s (or decade’s) findings.

  7. Space is something I am being currently faced with. Our hospital is updating and building new space. Our library is in prime real estate and I have a meeting next week with my director and the admin of engineering and such. I have to present why I need a space, isn’t everything electronic? I wish it was, my job would be easier in some ways. I freaked out a bit, but now am taking the approach that perhaps the reconfiguration of space could be better for our services overall. I don’t have super concrete reasons to have space so if you have some good points to make I would love any suggestions. Good discussion to think about.

  8. Space for me is something that has been on my mind alot as well. While I have not yet been approached to have my space reduced (there is construction throughout the building however). I have instead launched on an ambitious plan to “repurpose” the existing space. There will be some reduction in collection size but I am going to use some compact shelving to lessen the loss. I am looking at adding additional study areas, collaborative work areas etc. If I work it right I think I might actually be able to ADD space as there are several offices right next to the area where I want to put the largest collaborative area. Oops. I have also found an unlikely ally in the disability services and ADA folks.

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